News from Austria (Austrian Federal Chancellery)
It was announced on February 5, 2007 that the Theodor Kramer Prize 2007 would go to the Austrian exile author, painter and actor, Jakov Lind, who celebrated his 80th birthday on February 10, 2007. Due to his poor health, the prize was to be presented by Georg Stefan Troller to relatives of Lind at the Vienna Jewish Museum on March 13. An awards ceremony was to take place in Krems (Lower Austria) in late May. On February 17, 2007 Jakov Lind died in London; his funeral was held merely one day later.
Jakov Lind was born in 1927 in Vienna to a family of Eastern European Jews. With the help of a refugee organization, he escaped along with his sister to Holland in 1938. He found refuge with a family, while making plans to live in Palestine. Having forged his documents, Lind went underground in Germany. As Jan Gerrit Overbeek, he signed up on a towboat in 1943 to cross the Rhine. He survived the war in Hamburg. After the war he held various jobs and tried his luck as an actor in Israel and Vienna. In 1954 he left for London. In 1968 he published his book, “Soul out of Wood,” which was acclaimed enthusiastically in the English-speaking countries; he was compared to Kafka and Beckett. German critics remained reserved, obviously failing to come to terms with Lind’s perspective of the “practial boisterous joker,” (Marcel Reich-Ranicki), refusing to assume the victim’s role.
In 1966 he published the grotesque allegory, “A Better World.” The stage adaptation of the book bearing the title, “Ergo,” was successfully premiered in New York in 1968. The play was performed for the first time in German in 1997 at Vienna’s Volkstheater. In “The Trip to Jerusalem” (1972), he criticizes the official version of Zionism. In 1997 Lind received the Golden Medal of Honor of the City of Vienna.